Listen. In the beginning, there was mutura.
August 5, 2020 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Ireland has black pudding, France has boudin noir, South Korea has soondae, and Spain has morcilla. Kenya has mutura. Sometimes translated into English as "African blood sausage" in that mannerless way we have of translating non-English things into English, mutura is richer than its European relatives, as it’s packed with a powerful blend of spices. Mutura will have ginger; it will have garlic; it will have scallions, cilantro, and chile so fine and wonderful a person weeps for joy while eating it. Nothing else matters. Carey Baraka for Serious Eats
posted by ChuraChura (30 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sounds excellent. But what's this secret choir that Baraka sings for in Nairobi? That bio slaps.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 9:40 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


...spicy blood pudding sounds pretty damn tasty. I've had a few blood sausage type things and they were usually surprisingly bland.
posted by tavella at 9:49 AM on August 5


also Filipino dinuguan and Portuguese morcela.

I will be adding matura to my list of must-try foods.
posted by jb at 9:52 AM on August 5


tavella - Portuguese blood sausage is spicier than British / Irish; dinuguan is perfectly spicy. I love them all for slightly different reasons.
posted by jb at 9:54 AM on August 5


You can also make it from porpoises, apparently.
posted by pipeski at 9:58 AM on August 5


that mannerless way we have of translating non-English things into English

Translating English things into English can get fairly mannerless as well:

Ireland has black pudding, France has boudin noir, South Korea has soondae, and Spain has morcilla. Kenya has mutura.

...and England has the emulsified high-fat offal tube.
posted by flabdablet at 10:19 AM on August 5


The mutura discussion threads have been enlightening... so enlightening ...
posted by infini at 11:07 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


runs, fast
posted by infini at 11:07 AM on August 5


In the beginning, there was mutura.

Would love it if this is where Homer's gastéres (the roasting "goat's paunches stuffed with blood and fat" that Antinous wagers on Odysseus' wrestling Irus/Arnaeus, 18.44) come from.

Italy has various sanguinaccio variants, of which quite a few tend more towards sweet spices, even including chocolate, and Tuscan buristo, plus street-food tripe, lampredotto, served in similar circumstances to the mutura hawkers the author goes in search of - none of it's typically goat though...

(Here's another telling of Kikuyu goat eating traditions.)
posted by progosk at 11:28 AM on August 5


My favourite pairing for blood pudding or boudin noir is with grilled pear on top. The sweet caramelisation cuts through the blood, which can be a little heavy. I can see ginger and/or chilli being amazing with that. Mmm.
posted by horopter at 12:08 PM on August 5


emulsified high-fat offal tube

I'll thank you to stop quoting my business cards.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:14 PM on August 5 [7 favorites]


runs, fast

And this is why "how the sausage is made" is an idiom.

Morcilla often has paprika, garlic and/or onions, but the spiced sausage here is chorizo or longaniza.
posted by sukeban at 12:28 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]


horopter: I always eat my blood pudding on toast for just that reason, and when I have dinuguan, I usually end up eating only about half of what they serve, well-leavened with sticky garlic rice. That stuff is so rich and filling. I've had morcela straight, but only in small pieces.
posted by jb at 12:29 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Nairobi County are contaminated with staphylococcus, bacillus, streptococcus, proteus, and E. coli organisms." Partaking in the glories of mutura means potentially acquiring a who’s who of bacterial killers.

hol up.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:21 PM on August 5


The mutura discussion threads have been enlightening... so enlightening ...

I make sausage on the regular and I honestly don't see anything weird about that. The casing looks a little less processed than what I'm used to, but that stuffing method (using a plastic tube - in this case the top of a soda bottle, looks like - and forcing in by hand) is not uncommon.

It was interesting to me that the prejudice against "poor people food" exists everywhere (or at least everywhere that there's a burgeoning middle class). That it's "unclean" or made of "mystery ingredients" or otherwise unfit for human consumption. It's the same argument made against hot dogs in the US - "lips and assholes" or the street cart is dirty and the dogs are just stewing all day in "filthy water."

Sausages are great because they're an efficient way to pack a ton of flavor into a small package using cuts that are otherwise unappealing. If you want to use the whole animal, you're going to be making sausage at some point.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:08 PM on August 5 [10 favorites]


This is an odd attempt to claim black pudding as an exclusively Irish thing. It has roots just as deep if not deeper all over the UK, but particularly in the north of England and in Scotland going back to ancient times.
Wikipedia says, "originating in the United Kingdom and Ireland".

Speaking of this kind of thing, I am so happy to have finally found actual British bangers in the SF Bay Area, at Berkeley Bowl.
posted by w0mbat at 4:04 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


This is an odd attempt to claim black pudding as an exclusively Irish thing.

Did anyone do that? The only reference to black pudding in the article is the one quoted in this post, and it just says that Ireland has black pudding.
posted by firechicago at 5:44 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


I've had a few blood sausage type things and they were usually surprisingly bland.

That was my experience also, but I liked the Portuguese version I tried a lot more. The descriptions of the spicyness of mutara sounds intriguing and I hope I can try it someday.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:08 PM on August 5


It may sound primitive and unscientific, but through the fairies, we could ask mutura to help.
posted by Naberius at 9:36 PM on August 5 [3 favorites]


This is an odd attempt to claim black pudding as an exclusively Irish thing. It has roots just as deep if not deeper all over the UK, but particularly in the north of England and in Scotland going back to ancient times.
Wikipedia says, "originating in the United Kingdom and Ireland".


Right. It's a rhetorical trick of the author to ignore UK/English/Scottish black pudding so he can say English language users are "mannerless" for explaining mutura as "blood sausage" (to make his phrasing even more rhetorically striking, he also implies English language users can't or won't tell the difference between Africa and Kenya ). As a UK native I always explain English black pudding to people unfamiliar with it as "blood sausage" as I've seen done elsewhere in UK articles, since "black" and "pudding" used in this way is a quirk of UK English. I guess I have been "mannerlessly" translating UK English into non-specific English.
posted by Bwithh at 12:53 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Would anyone like to read and discuss more of this essay than the first paragraph that I posted here?
posted by ChuraChura at 5:11 AM on August 6 [9 favorites]


This sentence alone was worth the price of admission:

"Listen, eating mutura is death: When you eat it, you sense all the cholesterol, all the high blood pressure, all the heart disease, reaching out and yanking you into your grave."

I often think about how eating really spicy food makes you feel alive in a real way that extends beyond taste (the burn, the sweats) so i couldnt love this framing of how it feels to eat something wantonly fatty as the taste of death.

regarding buying street foods in rounds, ive seen it happen for both pani puri in india and tacos in mexico - buy one or two, eat them, get another couple. In both of those cases i think its a timing issue like w ramen - although less so for tacos than pani puri.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 6:58 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


What a fantastic article. I appreciated the quick primer on relevant Kenyan political history -- I wasn't familiar with a lot of those community names but that's what Google is for -- and it's a real art to describe the 'rules' around beloved street foods in a way that invokes a sense of rhythm and joy.

Also I've never met a type of blood sausage that I didn't love, and I am suddenly hungry again.
posted by desuetude at 9:24 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]


yeah, ive spent the morning thinking about delicious sausage, and for that i want to thank ChuraChura and Carey Baraka.

tangentially related to the actual subject of the article, these been just a crush of real talk around food media properties and how they do or dont engage well with "ethnic" (non-european) food and dealing with the overwhelming whiteness of our major media properties. SE has long been a go-to for recipes and food content, but i had to give a lot of weight to criticisms of their history and founder (Ed Levine probably isnt a bad dude, but he is emblematic of the wave of privileged white men who turned their blogs into businesses). Their response, including acknowledging that, as of June 2020, they had no Black staff and had never had a Black editor, seems to be genuine and im hopeful for more great content like this.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:12 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I agree, Exceptional_Hubris. I thought "YES! SEE! SO GREAT! MAKE THIS NORMAL AND NOT A TOKEN!" (Also, I had a momentary shudder of vivid horror about what an article on mutura would sound like in the manner of a classic New York Times Food Section column. I pushed the thought aside and just read this article again.)
posted by desuetude at 12:46 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I guess I have been "mannerlessly" translating UK English into non-specific English.

Well, what's often mannerless about it is when a description of a named thing is given in place of its name. I'm supposing this isn't when that description is given as a description. It's a little exoticizing, like translating people's names into their literal components to make them seem more foreign. Like 1920s novels discussing the Japanese Miss Cherry Blossom, instead of calling her Sakura, in a way that we wouldn't consistently refer to the Roman Emperor Little Boot, or the American-Canadian singer-songwriter Redhead Wagonmaker.
posted by pykrete jungle at 2:40 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I thought that the particularly "mannerless" bit is that how it's translated as African rather than Kenyan (it really is sometimes, and the author does say sometimes), rather than that it being mannerless to describe it as blood sausage. Though I think a secondary point is a mild eyeroll at English for being so focused on the bloooood that the blood must stand as its own category of wildly disparate sausage styles.
posted by desuetude at 9:31 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


for being so focused on the bloooood that the blood must stand as its own category of wildly disparate sausage styles.

MUSCLE STEAK
posted by pykrete jungle at 5:44 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Though I think a secondary point is a mild eyeroll at English for being so focused on the bloooood that the blood must stand as its own category of wildly disparate sausage styles.

But it is disparate for two important reasons! First, the blood is cooked before stuffing, which is almost never done with organ or mincemeat based sausages. Second, blood sausages are frequently (not always!) bulked out with grains which is again a bit of an oddity. Regardless, the precooking and lack of additional fat to emulsify the forcemeat means you end up with a very crumbly and relatively dry final product which I think is fairly unique among sausage styles.

Now, many sausages use wine or vinegar as flavor enhancers and I’m wondering how well it would work to substitute liquid, uncooked blood for those ingredients. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to get blood around here so I probably won’t be able to find out.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:56 PM on August 8


backseatpilot, I agree with all of that, which is why I gave it only a mild eyeroll. ;)
posted by desuetude at 5:38 PM on August 9


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